Season Two starts off with a bunch of flashy character reveals, with finally meeting Nathan Page’s ex-wife (Dee Smart) not even being the main one. Very prim, very proper, very Catholic Ashleigh Cummings’s sister, Anna Bamford, is a sex worker and works in a brothel where one of the girls has just turned up dead. So Bamford hires Essie Davis to investigate, with Davis not realizing the victim was found dead in a locked room with anti-sin copper Neil Melville, who survived.
Turns out Melville is Smart’s father.
And Page’s ex-father-in-law.
“Miss Fisher” does an amazing job with the pro-sex worker stuff, giving Cummings a great couple scenes throughout as she processes the information. It makes up for Davis’s episode long Hispanophile arc, which has her going from learning the tango at the beginning of the episode to impersonating a Spanish exotic dancer when she goes undercover at Bamford’s brothel.
The accent is a lot.
Though Davis has been supremely unproblematic so far in the show, so giving her an “mkay” character detail like this one is long overdue given she’s still an infinitely wealthy White woman in the 1920s.
The mystery is better than the resolve, which is nowhere near as interesting as a locked room mystery, a hypocrite bureaucrat suspect, and a madam’s blackmail stash.
Davis’s gets a cool Catwoman sequence where she has to climb up to get to the stash room, then has a fight scene with madam Belinda McClory. Oh, and there’s also Davis doing a fan dance, unintentionally to most of the supporting cast, shocking Cummings and sensationalizing Hugo Johnstone-Burt.
What also stands out about the resolution is it seems more like there’s season subplot building with is-he-or-isn’t-he suspicious Melville and then a creepy young, buff priest, Lyall Brooks, not to mention Page getting attacked on the street by thugs left unidentified.
Maybe the most impressive thing about the episode is how well it defers Davis and Page’s chemistry, post-divorce—Smart’s already engaged again, which solves the moral dilemma—and there are some great Phyrne and Jack chemistry moments throughout. But where it’s all going is a left for another day… and episode.